Positive and negative experiences of breast pumping during the first 6 months

Valerie J. Flaherman, Katherine G. Hicks, Justine Huynh, Michael D. Cabana, Kathryn A. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


For mothers with breastfeeding difficulties, pumping can be recommended to help establish milk production. However, pumping may present some barriers to successful breastfeeding. Mothers with milk supply concern may be at higher risk of barriers to successful breastfeeding. No previous studies have described experiences of pumping among mothers with milk supply concern. We conducted 10 focus groups of 56 mothers who had milk supply concern in the first month after birth. A paid, trained facilitator led groups in a semi-structured approach. Sessions were audiorecorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were coded independently by two investigators and analysed using grounded theory. We identified five themes related to the experience of pumping among mothers with milk supply concern: (1) additional control over breastfeeding from pumping: 'I would feed and then give him whatever I could manage to pump to him'. (2) Painful experience: 'The first time I pumped my boobs hurt so bad'. (3) Pumped volume affected milk supply concern: 'Pump and there was hardly anything coming out that's when I started to worry'. (4) Pumping interfered with other nurturing activities: 'While you're pumping, you can't touch the baby'. (5) Frustration from inconsistent provider advice: 'They told me to pump and then said, "That's going to cause your milk to increase too much"'. Mothers had positive and negative experiences with pumping. Clinicians should assess a mother's experience shortly after she initiates pumping, as further management and counselling may be necessary to avoid barriers to successful breastfeeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-298
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast pumping
  • Breastfeeding
  • Lactation
  • Milk expression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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